SUNDAY, Nov. 11, 2007 - Alan Arbesfeld

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Putting on Some Weight" - familiar phrases have "TON" added to them, creating wacky phrases, which are clued

Always surprised when a theme is as easy as this. Toyed around with AS GOOD AS IT GETS or some variation at 22A before AS GOOD AS NEWTON became obvious. But was I going to find TON in every theme answer, or would the unit of weight be different in each case? I already had the PAT- in the next theme answer (32), knew that the general in question must be PATTON, and everything was easy from there on in. I had a rough start at the very top, figuring 1A: Award for a hanging (plaque) was the name of some art prize I didn't know, and then blanking on 7A: 18th-century Venetian master who painted "Adoration of the Magi" (Tiepolo) and 14A: Magnetic induction unit (gauss), neither of which I know. Or if I knew them once, I forgot them. Strangely, the first answer I put in the grid was from a clue I thought was bad at the time: 20A: How miracle workers walk (on water). I know precisely one miracle worker who did that. But then I thought ... maybe it's metaphorical. It's not as if I can refer empirically to actual miracles. Anyway, ON WATER, and then the very familiar LAGUNA (19A: _____ Beach, Calif.), helped open up the North, and I didn't slow down much from then on.

Theme answers:

  • 22A: Up to top physics standards? (as good as NewTON)
  • 32A: Recumbent W.W. II general? (PatTON on the back)
  • 46A: First game of a Chinese double-header? (CanTON opener)
  • 55A: Container for an iron or wedge? (club carTON)
  • 68A: "I'm not interested in having tea!"? ("Don't give me any LipTON!") - my favorite theme answer by a long shot
  • 86A: Where to pick up nuclear supplies? (proTON shop)
  • 96A: Crucifix? (sexTON symbol) - this one gave me the most trouble, a "sexton" not being a church officer that very readily springs to mind
  • 107A: Traveler's aid in South Carolina? (CharlesTON atlas)
  • 123A: Easily transportable plantation product? (rollaway cotTON)
I ran into a minor snag while descending from the midwest into the south. The problem started with my not remembering the name LEO ROSTEN (12D: "The Joys of Yiddish" author). My mom most certainly had "The Joys of Yiddish" on her magical book shelves when I was a kid, but the author's name never stuck in my mind, which was too bad for me, because I really needed the end of his name. It paralleled 47D: Eared seal (otary), which was and is a complete mystery to me (I wrote in OTTER at first!), and then OTARY intersected 66A: "Air Music" composer, 1974 (Rorem), which is a name I know well (now), but "Air Music" was not ringing a bell. The only composers I could think of at that moment were John Cage and Brian Eno, neither of which fit. Then, of course, I reforgot stupid 60D: William Tell's home (Uri). I wanted something starting with an "A," possibly two. Ugh. Then there was the nearby 61D: Charlemagne's father, dubbed "the Short" (Pepin), which I straight up didn't know. So I had to take a detour and come at this entire patch from underneath, much later.

In addition to several answers in the LEO ROSTEN-to-PEPIN region, I blanked and stumbled a surprising number of times (for a puzzle I was able to polish off fairly quickly). Here's the stuff I didn't know:

  • 25A: Time, in Munich (zeit) - that "Z" was rough. The cross was PLAZA (1D: Square), which seems like an obvious answer, and yet I was entertaining only PLATA and PLAYA for a while (?!!?)
  • 29A: Actress Scala (Gia) - never heard of her
  • 131A: "Golden Boy" playwright (Odets) - he is possibly the most popular crossword playwright, after AGEE, INGE, and possibly ALBEE
  • 35D: Low cards in pinochle (nines) - nope, but easy enough to get from crosses
  • 89D: Biography subtitled "Living in the Shadows" (Oona) - ditto
  • 93D: "L'Shana _____" (Rosh Hashanah greeting) ("tova") - The only TOVA I know is TOVE Jansson, and as you can see, it's not even spelled the same way
  • 107D: Singer with Xavier Cugat (Charo) - The CHARO. "Love Boat" CHARO? "Coochie coochie coo!" CHARO?
  • 112D: It's a dyeing art (batik) - seems obvious now, but at the time I saw the clue I had an "R" in the final slot because of having DARE ME where the much better MAKE ME (133A: Schoolyard challenge) was supposed to go
And I was impressed and / or startled by the following:

  • 21A: It may be left holding the bag (teapot) - my teapot (sitting right here on my desk, a gorgeous masterwork of design simplicity given to me by my lovely wife) never contains a bag; only loose leaves - so this one took longer than it might have; still, it's clever.
  • 64A: Ludacris's music (rap) - he's funny
  • 90A: Lago composition (agua) - I had ARIA. Maybe you can tell me why...
  • 111A: Item often cloned (IBM PC) - torn between hate and love ... coming down on side of love. You almost never hear / see the "IBM" part when talking about computer clones. Just "PC." Still, how can I hate such an unlikely, magnificent consonant string?
  • 117A: Burglar's advance man, maybe (caser) - file under Odd Jobz
  • 56D: Baked, in Bologna (cotta) - learned from crosswords and somehow not forgotten. Huzzah!
  • 69D: Prince in Ezekiel (Gog) - I thought Gog and Magog were from Revelations ... Oh, looks like they appear in both. Never mind.
  • 71D: Joe Pesci title role (Vinny) - VINNIE really wants to be spelled with an "IE" (btw "IE" spelling beats "Y" spelling 613K to 537K at Google)
  • 85D: Folgers alternative (Yuban) - do they still make this? The very word YUBAN makes me feel like it's 1978.

But it's almost 2008, and I have snowy woods to walk in and books to read and what not. So good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Well, Lago sounds like it might be a person or place (my particular choice) but reason finally prevailed. This one was pretty easy but enjoyable.

Orange 9:17 AM  

Snow?!? Really? Brr.

Wikipedia tells me that Charo may have been just 15 when she married Xavier Cugat, who was 66 at the time. Ew.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Had a problem in the same location.

Filled in (with assurance) party GAL for 59D which gave me SNAGUP for 58A (klunky, but it worked) and I had an "S" at the end of 53A because it was plural. For 34D: I have seen OLAV and OLAF so I never fill in the last letter til I get the cross.

Orange, you're up early. Still on home time?

That pretty much screwed me in that area for a long time.

The rest of the puzzle went quickly after getting the theme. I was able to do most of the theme answers without any crosses except for 96A until I got the magnificent JUXTAPOSE.

Fun puzzle(don't ever remember seeing ROREM without NED)

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Regardless of the Google count, the ONLY correct spelling of the Joe Pesci title role is "Vinny" -- the people who made the movie made that choice and all the other Vinnies in the world can't change it.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

back to "baked in bologna" and "cotta" --

next time yer havin' tea, you might also enjoy having some biscotti -- twice-*baked/cooked* cookies. and maybe put that hot cup on a coaster of the terracotta -- baked/cooked earth -- variety!



wendy 10:34 AM  

Merv Griffin used to have Charo and "Cugie" as she called him on all the time. Such camp. For those unfamiliar with him, you can shake your tail feather here to his stylings. Youtube has a lot of his stuff, although I don't immediately see anything with him and the kootchie kootchie girl.

wendy 10:46 AM  

P.S. I'm not sure I ever grasped what Merv's sexual orientation was, but I do remember that he always seemed particularly enthralled with CHARO and somewhat bemused by the fact that Cugat had landed her. As an aside, the Merv Griffin Show was one of my mother's many addictions. I cannot recall a weekday of my young life when the show wasn't on in the house. Everything I learned about show business I learned from him ;) And as a Merv segue - good luck on the show, Orange!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

I agree with rex pretty much, but would like to add that I found 2 of the theme answers cringe-inducing (the ones with sexton and cotton)--yikes. Speaking of Tiepolo: He could draw the human figure like no one before or after him, and should you ever be in the vicinity of Wurzburg (don't know how to do the umlaut) in Germany, you MUST go see the grand staircase in the Bishop's Residence, designed by the greatest German baroque architect, Balthasar Neumann, topped by Tiepolo's ceiling fresco, the largest ceiling fresco in the world (I think) that miraculously survived the bombing in WWII intact and depicts the then known world allegorically--with baroque Indians and baroque Chinese frolicking around the cornice--just fantastic.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Yes, THAT Charo. A living breathing 'toon, if there ever was one.

I rocketed along in the north of this puzzle, but ran into snags starting with my inability to come up with AGENCY, my complete brown-out on Charles Atlas (and me a comic book fan! Plus, just the other day I sat in a workshop that mentioned that there's a picture-book biography of Charles Atlas. I'm so ashamed...), and my fumbling around with the type of cot for 123a.

Favorite answer, far and away, was DONTGIVEMEANYLIPTON, although it was kinda cool to see JUXTAPOSE. Plus, it was fun to see the double h in PINCHHIT.

After yesterday's nightmare, this one was what I needed.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Agree with ulrich. I found sexton a bit sacrilegious.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Loved this puzzle. Had the same three faves as Billnut. TIEPOLO (never heard of) and LEOROSTEN baffled me till the end then had an aha moment - oh...Leo ROSTEN. The list of crossword standbys must include: architect, 3 letters (PEI); playwright, 5 letters starts with O (ODETS); 4-letter river (AARE or YSER). Did not know till now it was possible to introduce 79D answer into a puzzle inoffensively.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Well, I thought sexton was funny, for exactly the odd juxtaposition (great word) of concepts. And I think aria was a logical initial response to lago since it sounds like a tempo (e.g., lento). At least, that was my first take as well.

Orange 12:29 PM  

(Thanks, Wendy! I read recently that Merv was thought to be a fairly well-closeted gay man. Maybe he hankered after Cugie...although Cugie must've been considerably older than Merv.)

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

This puzzle was right in my wheelhouse. I was amazed by how easy the fill was. And the theme came with Patton and Newton. It's funny; I always do the Sunday puzzle on paper because it usually takes too long to do it online. But yesterday, the printable puzzle was somehow not available until 2-3 hours after the usual 6 pm eastern time. So I tried it online and finished in under 18 minutes, I'm sure a new record for me.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

After yesterday's disaster, this puzzle was a relief, but I'm up for a little quibbling anyway.

Shouldn't ONWATER be WHERE miracle workers walk, rather than how?

Janie makes fair points about biscotti and terracotta, but next time she's in Bologna she should stick with the lasagna al forno. A more accurate clue would have been something like "cooked, in Catania".

And anon 10:13 AM is right. The name of the movie is "My Cousin Vinny". End of story.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

anoa -- re: "...but next time she's in Bologna..."

from your mouth!



Anonymous 1:57 PM  

I have a problem with 'applier". I only have applicators in my make-up bag.

Rex Parker 2:21 PM  

I don't need people explaining what the actual title of the movie is. I know what the title of the movie is. That doesn't change my feeling about the stupidity of the spelling "VINNY."

Save your fatuous, indignant comments for an actual controversy.


Unknown 2:46 PM  

This puzzle should have been in U.S.A.TODAY and not the Sunday New York Times.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

Lago = Spanish for lake, so agua...
Didn't know it at the time. Filled it in with the other clues.

Thanks Rex for your site, it has brought me back into doing crossword puzzles again.


Anonymous 3:18 PM  

I agree with Anoa re. "on water" = where, not how. 'Course, I don't think one can be overly-literal.

Disturbing to discover that Cugat's Singer was not Isaac.

I had trouble giving up Otter as Otary was an unknown. Also, I was pretty sure on PLAyA in PLAZA's spot -- too many years in sunny CA.

17d (Seattle cager, for short) is only too true, what with a highly probable move of the Sonics to Oklahoma City in the works.

I wanted 9d "Meadow mother" to be "Carm" (Sopranos).

I was in slug mode until I got the theme, it helped a ton and things starting falling quickly thereafter.

Orange 3:21 PM  

Of course, the only Vinnie who really matters is Vinnie Barbarino. No offense to Vinny Testaverde, but really, who touched the hearts and minds of America more?

wendy 3:37 PM  

Well, if we've got to choose Vimnys or Vinnies or Vinnees, I'm choosing Vinnie Terranova from Wiseguy. *He* was a hunkahunka burning love. ;)

tiepolo honey (you get up every day looking forward to your new persona, don't you? I know I do) - love the Carm option. That would have been awesome, except the clue would probably have to have been Meadow mom to allow for the shortened answer.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Lagos compositions include juju or fuji but they did not work.

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

Tell me if you think I'm being overly PC but I really didn't like seeing the word "SPIC" in the puzzle even though it is a part of the brand name "SPIC AND SPAN" Every time I was glancing over the puzzle I was hoping this word did not offend anyone. Maybe it's because I work with children that I am sensitive to words with racial overtones but then again...?

Otherwise i really enjoyed this puzzle. When I solved NEWTON in the first theme answer I was hoping that there would be different units for weight instead of TON for all - but still a lot of fun.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

Is nobody going to complain about "eaves" clued without an indication of a plural answer? No? Then I will. Okay.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

Kim: I thought about this, and I think that words that CAN be racial slurs, but don't have to, especially if their ordinary meaning doesn't even refer to a person ("kraut" comes easily to mind), are OK. My reason is that we cannot allow bigots to hijack perfectly ordinary words--it would give them a power they should not have.

Hungry Bird 4:48 PM  

Does anyone else have "Pathological Certainty"? My husband says I have it and he suffers from it. So much easier to curb in social discourse, as one doesn't want to offend. Leads to moments of reflection and some cognitive flexibility. With only a paper partner I become convinced that I am right, dig in and fossilize. Sigh.

I also am hobbled by dys-spellia and over-reliance on spell check.

Thus, I am no stranger to self-sabotage.

Today's worst shot in the foot was "Pipin for Pepin." Who was "Pippin" on Broadway anyway? Was that later on? Voltaire or some such? Who is defending my right to say what I want without agreeing with me nowadays? Our current constitutional crisis had turned into a siege.

I was also pathologically certain that I remembered "lago" as a musical direction, a la "lente" or "forte" from my days enslaved in forced-violin lessons. This led to my also wanting something along the lines of aria.

As for the Charo/Cugat Conjugation, who was it that said, "It ain't the meat, it's the motion"? I had a certainly pathological fascination with Charo in my youth. Kitschee Kitschee!

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

The musical direction you are thinking of is "largo."

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

Ah, Yiddish. Mel Brooks has begun a campaign to save the word "schmuck."

"NEW YORK—Saying he could no longer stand idly by while a vital part of American culture is lost forever, activist and Broadway producer Mel Brooks has founded a private nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the word "schmuck.""


Anonymous 6:26 PM  

Well, I dreamt about my eaves last night and Otary was a clue a shot time ago. Saw alot of Merv in my youth (mother's favorite as well) so Charo and the aforementioned were gimmes as well as Odets.

Kim, Just had the movie Lenny from Netflix and he (Lenny Bruce) made the same point as ulrich about what/who gives power to words.

As always the commentary makes my day. And, I would say today Rex gives new meaning to "don't give me any lipton"

Well 65 here in sunny southern Minnesota and that's as good as it gets.

Unknown 6:36 PM  

I was really hoping for different weight units to come out too (even mass -- I wouldn't mind, they're close enough), but it became painfully obvious after NEWTON and PATTON that there would only be tonnage. Too bad.
At first I thought the same thing as kim (?) above about SPIC, but I agree that we can't completely disallow words that have legitimate meanings completely unrelated to their bigoted senses.
I also didn't like the cluing on EAVES.
I hate AARE.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

I don't have a problem with spic showing up with span... any more than I would if wop showed up clued with do, though even as I write the words, I feel an appropriate cringe at their "other" meanings. And while we're talking PC, I've been having a problem with clues that have to do with hanging. I know that they are going to relate in some way to pictures, but with all the barbaric violence going on in so many places in the world right now, when these clues appear, I get triggered and see horrific images that I have to shake out of my mind before I can think about the clue/answer.

That said, I loved the puzzle and, like Anoa and Wendy (I assume), I found it a relief and fun after yesterday. The things I didn't know (rorem, pindaric ...well that's all, no wonder it was easy) I got from crosses and I got to learn about Pindar after the fact.

Charles Atlas reminded me of Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand, my philosophical guru in my college days, who also appeared in a recent puzzle.

I love the word juxtapose. Lah di dah in its alternate spelling was a gimme after la di da. Pol has been used lately, too. Loved ibmpc. Got Yuban from being over fifty.

Re: eaves... it's one of those words that is singular, though it looks plural. There wouldn't be one eave.

Hmm... I see that I didn't know uri or gog either, and had to assume that pei was correct as I look over the puzzle.

Re: the Cuchi Cuchi girl, I have loved her since I saw her on Johnny Carson with Cugat. She always claimed their marriage was one of convenience so that he could bring her to the states. She was the original one-named, larger-than-life, even larger-haired, bombshell and she has had an amazing career. She sings, plays fabulous guitar, dances, acts, and has more energy and shzaaaam that any performer I can think of. I'm always impressed with "one-and-onlies" and she is on my list. Check out her website:

Re: Pippin... He was the hunchbacked son of Charlemagne (Kid Charlemagne?) in the Broadway musical from the early '70s, directed by Bob Fosse, who if I remember correctly, wrote the libretto, too. Motown music had something to do with it, maybe funded it, and the Supremes and the Jackson 5 covered some of the songs. I saw Ben Vereen in the broadway version (not as the hunchback, but as the Leading Player). Can't remember who played Pippin, but Jill Clayburg played Catherine. Haven't thought of this in years.

Lastly, GO O!

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

Wow... did I write all that? Can you tell I have the afternoon off from all responsibilities?

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

DK- don't you mean you watched the movie "Lennie"?

Hungry Bird 7:30 PM  

Anonymous, thanks a, well, ton. You thoroughly settled down a neuron that could have exceeded its seizure threshold. Like a good brain scratch. I so hated those violin lessons. My mother wouldn't let me quit. Finally, in 6th grade, the school music teacher ordered me to stop. She didn't want to incur the wrath of her junior high colleague.

Thanks also to Rikki. Why does Pippin free-associate to Voltaire? Was there a Voltaire play on B-way simultaneously? Did I see Pippin after French class? Google will reveal these secrets.

Charo is the real deal. In fact, she inspired me to take guitar lessons, after I was fired (not by HR) from violin. No largo for me though, more up-tempo down-beat bossa nova.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

This went very smoothly (especially after yesterday) with the exception of the ROREM/URI/OTARY area. I finally guessed/pulled ROREM from somewhere and felt lucky when I was right. I also smiled at JUXTAPOSE and was looking for a plural for the EAVES clue.

Snarky--wiki says PIPIN is an acceptable alternate spelling.

Jersey Boys was incredible. I grew up with their music so it was a bit of an emotional experience for me. If you have a chance to see it do, expecially if you were in HS or college during the 60s.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

There, there, rex! Don't get all whinie!

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

This was a good puzzle, and I was happy not to have to tap into google or other sources. By the way, I have two shelves worth of reference books (dictionaries in 6 languages, music and literature dictionaries, an atlas etc.) I don't touch because of Google.
Dear Ulrich, when you want to put in an umlaut, add an e after the letter a, o and u.

Anonymous 11:26 PM  

Snarky... was it anything to do with the fact that Pippin was a hunchback? Hunchback>>>>Hunchback of Notre Dame>>>>>french writer whose name begins with V (Victor Hugo)>>>>>Voltaire

Steve 12:23 AM  

Did no one else have trouble with 23D & 51A? I ran into this early on and got caught up for a while thinking it was a multiletter puzzle (I wanted APPLICATOR for 23D) before I got the theme. I've never seen OEUF before, or at least don't remember it. Even now I don't know what it is. Looks like the sound one makes when punched in the gut - oeuf!

I was surprised Rex didn't comment on 88D "Unable to pass the bar" THIRSTY - I thought that was great.

Anonymous 1:44 AM  

Steve -- its late, but I believe oeuf is french for egg which is cued by the french like spelling of omelet(te). Also, IMOO 23D is a bit of a stretch.

Unknown 2:32 AM  

I didn't realize that above the word "eaves" (that it only can be plural), but then I looked it up and there it was.

Unknown 2:33 AM  


Rex Parker 8:29 AM  


I deleted your comment the first time you made it because I thought you'd be embarrassed that you a. didn't know the definition of "whiny," and b. couldn't spell it.

But if you insist, I'll let it stand.


Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Thanks Rex, I do!

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

One of the fascinating things about crosswords is what is easy for some and hard for others... Surprised so many had trouble with URI - it comes up a lot as "Swiss canton" or "Tell's canton" - it's the only canton I can name, so in it goes. I hated APPLIER, too. Can't think of an instance where I'd use it rather than applicator. Never heard of an OTARY, and neither did my dictionary.

OLAF/OLAV... have the same problem with ERIN/EIRE and CZAR/TSAR (Has anyone ever seen it spelled TSAR except in crosswords?)

Love the site, enjoy reading comments... where else can we rant about whether walking on water is a "how" or a "where">>>

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

I don't know about the rest of the country but Yuban is sold in Las Vegas and I can't start my day or my crossword without it! Lori

kas 2:06 PM  

Enjoy reading all your comments. I just started doing the NYTCP and now I don't want to do any other

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

When I think Cugat, I think Abbe Lane-used to be big, big! They played my college prom in 1951. Charo was his later in life squeeze. Gads, I've been around a long time! Suspect this why I often have an easy time with things that stump you youngsters-but get stuck all the time on modern music "stuff". Wish I weren't six weeks out, so someone would actually read this.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

I'm in Oregon where we get the Sunday puzzle one week later, also. This is the first Sunday puzzle I've been able to complete without Google; however, it took almost two hours. Yuban is the favorite brew-at-home coffee here. Starbucks is the favorite when buying it away from home.

Rex's site has allowed me to become a much better solver. I read it every day and enjoy it almost as much as completing the NYT puzzle!

impjb 7:41 PM  

For some inexplicable reason I never looked at the theme, and therefore the puzzle was much harder to me than it should have been. I never even realized it 'til I checked here, mystified as to the connection of the "?"'d clues.

Don't drink and do crosswords folks! :-)

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